A week after my first trip out this way I headed back out to get more photos from farther down the NE slope of Yellow Peak in the open talus areas as well as the east slope of Black Mesa. This time Gabriele didn't leave me like last week (to head over to Canyon Lake and back with Hank) and we continued on the Black Mesa Trail until cutting east until we were just southeast of Yellow Peak and headed up along the ridge. Instead of heading straight to the top we found a game trail heading up at not quite so steep an angle along the southeast slope before heading up through a rocky area. As we neared the summit a pretty good-sized deer jumped up and took off away from us toward the very south end of the summit, where we would have been if we had continued straight up. Knowing I'd have to turn to my left to snap the photo I took a split-second to plant my feet safely before taking the camera out of my chest pack. In that time the deer moved just enough there was a jojoba bush between us, so even though I could see it and tried to focus the camera on infinity so the deer would be in focus, but for the two quick shots I got off, the jojoba was in perfect focus, the deer was a fuzzy gray spot. I hustled up to the summit and made out for the south end but the deer was already long gone down the slope.
Once up on the summit we headed over to where I thought the log was only to realize it was back near where the deer lit out so my GPS track will show a little wandering. Gabriele added her name to the log, I added my second summit and she took a photo of the log. After replacing the log in the glass jar we headed off over the summit and down toward the northeast. It was a little less fun going down the large dark rocks than it was climbing up last week, but eventually we got into easier ground.
After heading far enough down the northeast until we could see the open areas of talus, we sat down to eat some lunch. When Gabriele pulled out here sandwich I made a comment that it "looks like someone just delivered you a sandwich" and here, out in the middle of nowhere. It looked good, but I had to settle for a Clif bar and a granola bar. After our short lunch we continued down the ridge to the north until it was either go down to the right on a relatively easy slope except full of vegetation, or go down to the left (west) of the ridge and catch the wash below and head back toward Black Mesa Trail. It turned out to be a but steeper than anticipated so it took more time and effort to make it down safely.
Once we hit the wash we found it pretty easy going. We came upon a pool of stagnant water that had a similar pattern to what I photographed last week, but this time we could see how it was formed. There was a butterfly that had fallen into the water that moved along the surface by flapping its wings, clearing the area within the wingspan while pushing the surface debris to the side, leaving trails across the water. Before I could get up-sun of it to take a photo, the butterfly had made quite a long path across the water. After I took a photo, Gabriele used her hiking pole to lift the butterfly out and drop it on a bush nearby, hopefully giving it a new lease on life... for another day anyway.
Soon we were back to the Black Mesa Trail, but instead of taking the slightly shorter way back the way we came, we continued south toward the Dutchman Trail. But rather than going all the way over to the Dutchman, as soon as we hit the wash we turned right and headed west in the wash itself. We'd hoped for as much water as three weeks ago when I last hiked this wash but no luck. However, we did come across an external frame backpack that appeared to have been caught in the roots of some overhanging trees at some point in the past when there was a heavy flow. The pack looked pretty worn but being curious, I pulled it out and checked to see what, if anything, was in it. I came up with a rusty old screwdriver, a Tor-X 15 driver, a small sledge hammer and an entrenching tool (military guys will know what that is) along with some rusty-looking batteries and a small cord. Not prepared to haul it all out, I just took the hammer, entrenching tool and Tor-X driver. Maybe next trip out the Dutchman I'll be back to haul out the pack itself. (If anyone wants to grab it the coords are: 33.46012 -111.40010)
Once Gabriele had enough of the rock hopping we cut through some brush onto the Dutchman Trail, where there was a group of eight hikers. Seeing the hammer and entrenching tool they asked if I found anything. "Just these" I said, quickly adding "and a pronghorn with two points in my pack." (I'd found them earlier on the climb up Yellow Peak, and upon closer inspection I found it has four points, so if the other side was the same it would have been an eight-pointer.) Then the next thing, a few women in the group noticed my Teva's and they exclaimed together "he's hiking with sandals!" Then I showed them my really bad-looking toenails on my left foot and said, "you see them? I lost them all wearing hiking shoes so I went to sandals and haven't gone back. No blisters with these!"
Then we were off and cruising back to the First Water trailhead to end another day on the trail.
5 hrs 50 minutes moving time (2.1 mph avg) and 1 hr 35 minutes stopped. Pretty good for all the slow going on Yellow Peak, but of course anyone who knows Gabriele, once we hit the Dutchman we were practically kicking up a trail of dust... the last 3 miles we averaged 3.5 mph.
Thanks for joining me on another fun off-trail jaunt Gabriele!
Although there was a slight discrepancy between our GPS's, the GPS trip computer page, tracks and such, I'm sure we racked up at least 11.5 miles. (My trip computer page had 11.8 miles)
As usual the best photos are posted on HAZ, the whole set on my own site:http://www.changephoenix.com/11/2011-01-28YellowPeak.html